Best creative mode (other than M) for E-TTL flash photography

Sporgon

5% of gear used 95% of the time
CR Pro
typically events where they want real time social media output, I shoot RAW and jpeg, if the images don’t need much fettling I’ll give them the jpeg for speed, if they need a bit more pulling and pushing I’ll adjust the RAW file and then give them a jpeg. .
Yes indeed. A genuinely useful use for two cards slots !!

(P.S. Did you get my files ?)
 

VegasCameraGuy

EOS R5
CR Pro
Jul 9, 2020
158
107
Las Vegas, NV
www.flickr.com
Indoors, I try to let the flash supply the light and outdoors just use fill flash.

It's interesting that the R5 has three settings for flash (1) Fill, (2) Standard (whatever that means), and (3) Flash.

I haven't had a chance to really work with flash but it seems like the control is improved over the older design that PBD & MK Guy talked about.

My schedule has been so hectic lately that I haven't been able to experiment with flash but that's high on my list. I'm hoping that based upon the menu selections that you can more easily select fill flash or entirely light the scene with flash.

My primarily flash units are 360watt second Godox units and even bare tube firing into an umbrella, I can typically light an entire room at ISO 100 and f8 using the normal room lighting as a fill.

What I'm planning is to set the shutter speed to 1/60 - 1/200th and Av at f8 and shoot on auto and not manual with the camera set for flash priority. My hope is that will work properly. I don't like to use manual because it adds another layer of complexity. It's too easy to forget a setting and then realize you've screwed up a bunch of shots.
 

snegri45

I'm New Here
Jun 20, 2017
16
15
New York City
Since this is still going, and also has evolved a bit, let me jump back in. When I have had enough prep time at a location I have occasionally done as Vegas and lit the whole room with studio type AC strobes, usually Adorama Budget Flash 160 or 300. Put one in each corner, bounce it into the wall/ceiling corner and you will have pretty constant manual exposure anywhere and in any direction. It makes life easy.

Experienced photographers adjusting the flash manually? Haven't done that since the eighties. H'blad, Distagon 50, Vericolor(?) 160, 1/60 sec, f/8, and always keep 8' distance, and you got proper exposure and focus with the proper manual flash setting. There was often a significant "Deer caught in the headlight" look to the subjects, though. So this old and (hopefully) experienced photographer is a dedicated fan of E-TTL II. The flash is a lot smarter than me (doesn't really take a lot) and it sure thinks a lot faster than me.

The young lady eating chicken was shot using the "Blast the Room!" approach. My own approach was a bit messed up, however. No need to use ISO 400 or f/14, ISO 100 and f/ 5.6 or 7.1 would have been just fine. I should also probably have used "Cloudy" white balance on the camera. Live and learn!

The two little girls were lit similarly, but with a spot of fill flash. The two foxy ladies were shot with fairly crappy ambient overhead light and again a bit of Speedlite ceiling bounced fill. The commonality is that in each situation I had time to evaluate the ambient and decide to work with it or against it. But in more fluid situations it gets to be use all the helpful kinds of Auto settings the fabulous Canon eco system gives us, and if need be, adjust in post. All the client wants are great photos that are technically proficient but with GREAT emotions, expressions, and feelings. Let the camera do the proficiency while you work on the emotional part.

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EmIMG_9800.JPG
 
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VegasCameraGuy

EOS R5
CR Pro
Jul 9, 2020
158
107
Las Vegas, NV
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I've been experimenting with my R5 and a Godox AD360ii strobe into a 24-inch Godox softbox. With AV, ISO 100, and f8 I get good exposures on E-TTL mode using a XPro wireless trigger in typical room lighting. From what I can tell, when the wireless trigger is on the shutter is always 1/200th which is the fastest sync speed.

While the actual exposure is good, it is still from a single softbox so you have to watch for shadows. But, the actual exposure itself looks good letting the camera auto control the flash.
 

privatebydesign

EOS-1D X Mark III
CR Pro
Jan 29, 2011
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I've been experimenting with my R5 and a Godox AD360ii strobe into a 24-inch Godox softbox. With AV, ISO 100, and f8 I get good exposures on E-TTL mode using a XPro wireless trigger in typical room lighting. From what I can tell, when the wireless trigger is on the shutter is always 1/200th which is the fastest sync speed.

While the actual exposure is good, it is still from a single softbox so you have to watch for shadows. But, the actual exposure itself looks good letting the camera auto control the flash.
That is not ‘normal‘ behaviour for E-TTL, do you have your Slow Synchro set to 1/250? If you do it will fire the mechanical shutter at 1/200 for all flash exposures.

I’d recommend setting it to 1/250-1/60 Auto to get a better ambient mix.
 

VegasCameraGuy

EOS R5
CR Pro
Jul 9, 2020
158
107
Las Vegas, NV
www.flickr.com
That is not ‘normal‘ behaviour for E-TTL, do you have your Slow Synchro set to 1/250? If you do it will fire the mechanical shutter at 1/200 for all flash exposures.

I’d recommend setting it to 1/250-1/60 Auto to get a better ambient mix.
I'll check that but I'm pretty sure that the R5 manual says that 1/200 is the highest shutter speed you can use with the R5. Unless I'm using flash for outdoor fill, I'm typically shooting indoors and letting my stobe supply virtually all of the light. Assuming some contribution from room lighting, 1/200 is plenty fast as I like to shoot at f8 or better as much as I can. Even outdoors in the sun, I normally shoot at minimum shutter speeds to allow me smaller apertures for better DOF.
 

privatebydesign

EOS-1D X Mark III
CR Pro
Jan 29, 2011
9,346
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I'll check that but I'm pretty sure that the R5 manual says that 1/200 is the highest shutter speed you can use with the R5. Unless I'm using flash for outdoor fill, I'm typically shooting indoors and letting my stobe supply virtually all of the light. Assuming some contribution from room lighting, 1/200 is plenty fast as I like to shoot at f8 or better as much as I can. Even outdoors in the sun, I normally shoot at minimum shutter speeds to allow me smaller apertures for better DOF.
Yes 1/200 mechanical and 1/250 with the electronic shutter are the fastest sync speeds, but that isn’t traditionally how ETTL II works, traditionally in Av and P modes it will use the shutter speed to give you a better background exposure, it will use the flash power to give you a correct subject exposure. There are two completely different exposure calculations it does automatically, if you are always getting 1/200 shutter speed then it isn’t doing that calculation for the ambient it is just making a subject flash exposure calculation.
 

SumanV

EOS M6 Mark II
Sep 25, 2016
51
18
That is not ‘normal‘ behaviour for E-TTL, do you have your Slow Synchro set to 1/250? If you do it will fire the mechanical shutter at 1/200 for all flash exposures.

I’d recommend setting it to 1/250-1/60 Auto to get a better ambient mix.
@privatebydesign I did not follow you when you said that the behavior was not normal. May I know why it isnt normal?

Thanks and regards
Suman
 

privatebydesign

EOS-1D X Mark III
CR Pro
Jan 29, 2011
9,346
3,678
120
@privatebydesign I did not follow you when you said that the behavior was not normal. May I know why it isnt normal?

Thanks and regards
Suman
Hi Suman,

By ‘normal’ behaviour I meant always using a shutter speed of 1/200 as VegasCameraGuy said he was getting.

There are two main aspects to ETTL II that the camera controls In Av and P modes, it uses the flash power to control the subject illumination in combination with the set aperture, and it controls the ambient exposure separately by changing the shutter speed in combination with the aperture. These are two distinct exposures controlled completely independently at the same time that share a common aperture, which is why ETTL is at it’s most powerful when used in Av mode.

But this can lead to issues because in very dark conditions where the ambient light is minimal the shutter speeds can be very long, up to 30 seconds, the old fashioned way we dealt with this was to use ETTL for the flash but use the camera in M mode, thereby we set the background/ambient exposure and ETTL only dealt with the subject exposure.

The modern solution is to give the camera menu options for shutter speed regardless of the background brightness, the R5 has three options in the Menu under Slow Sync, 1/250-30sec Auto, 1/250-1/60 Auto, and 1/250. Traditionally ETTL II uses 1/250 - 30 sec Auto (or max sync speed to 30 sec), in that it will use any shutter speed it can to get a complimentary background exposure. But as I said this can cause issues in dark settings so rather than us learn how it is actually working Canon gave us a Menu option work around. The 1/250-1/60 Auto is the most useful setting as it caps the slow shutter speed to 1/60 sec thereby preventing the worst of the long exposures in dark situations. The 1/250 option is the newest and sets the background exposure in Av mode to the set aperture and the fastest shutter sync speed, on the R5 that is 1/250 electronic and 1/200 mechanical. Effectively when 1/250 is set in the menu in Av mode the camera is behaving exactly the same as it would be in M mode set to 1/250 electronic or 1/200 mechanical, the ETTL is being limited simply to the subject exposure.

This means half the computing power of ETTL II is being overridden, so is not ‘traditional’ behavior in Av mode. So if you are always getting 1/200 (max mechanical sync speed) as an exposure in Av mode with an R5 and a flash mounted in ETTL then the camera is not working out a background exposure and is behaving exactly the same as it would if you had it in M mode and set the shutter speed to 1/200. Ergo you must have the camera set to override ‘normal’ ETTL II behavior in the Slow Sync options.

Hope this explains it in an understandable way.
 
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VegasCameraGuy

EOS R5
CR Pro
Jul 9, 2020
158
107
Las Vegas, NV
www.flickr.com
Hi Suman,

By ‘normal’ behaviour I meant always using a shutter speed of 1/200 as VegasCameraGuy said he was getting.

There are two main aspects to ETTL II that the camera controls In Av and P modes, it uses the flash power to control the subject illumination in combination with the set aperture, and it controls the ambient exposure separately by changing the shutter speed in combination with the aperture. These are two distinct exposures controlled completely independently at the same time that share a common aperture, which is why ETTL is at it’s most powerful when used in Av mode.

But this can lead to issues because in very dark conditions where the ambient light is minimal the shutter speeds can be very long, up to 30 seconds, the old fashioned way we dealt with this was to use ETTL for the flash but use the camera in M mode, thereby we set the background/ambient exposure and ETTL only dealt with the subject exposure.

The modern solution is to give the camera menu options for shutter speed regardless of the background brightness, the R5 has three options in the Menu under Slow Sync, 1/250-30sec Auto, 1/250-1/60 Auto, and 1/250. Traditionally ETTL II uses 1/250 - 30 sec Auto (or max sync speed to 30 sec), in that it will use any shutter speed it can to get a complimentary background exposure. But as I said this can cause issues in dark settings so rather than us learn how it is actually working Canon gave us a Menu option work around. The 1/250-1/60 Auto is the most useful setting as it caps the slow shutter speed to 1/60 sec thereby preventing the worst of the long exposures in dark situations. The 1/250 option is the newest and sets the background exposure in Av mode to the set aperture and the fastest shutter sync speed, on the R5 that is 1/250 electronic and 1/200 mechanical. Effectively when 1/250 is set in the menu in Av mode the camera is behaving exactly the same as it would be in M mode set to 1/250 electronic or 1/200 mechanical, the ETTL is being limited simply to the subject exposure.

This means half the computing power of ETTL II is being overridden, so is not ‘traditional’ behavior in Av mode. So if you are always getting 1/200 (max mechanical sync speed) as an exposure in Av mode with an R5 and a flash mounted in ETTL then the camera is not working out a background exposure and is behaving exactly the same as it would if you had it in M mode and set the shutter speed to 1/200. Ergo you must have the camera set to override ‘normal’ ETTL II behavior in the Slow Sync options.

Hope this explains it in an understandable way.
Thanks for that helpful explanation. I'm often having to shoot and scoot which means that I don't have the luxury to do test shots and fiddle with the camera and flash settings. For me, being able to shoot ETTL takes one worry off my mind as I'm dealing with moving subjects.
 

privatebydesign

EOS-1D X Mark III
CR Pro
Jan 29, 2011
9,346
3,678
120
Thanks for that helpful explanation. I'm often having to shoot and scoot which means that I don't have the luxury to do test shots and fiddle with the camera and flash settings. For me, being able to shoot ETTL takes one worry off my mind as I'm dealing with moving subjects.
For sure there is no right or wrong way to work just different ways of achieving the look you want, and ETTL II in general is a great tool. The suggestion was really more about what is happening to the ambient exposure than the flash/subject part, for which I agree ETTL takes a huge amount of stress out of dynamic situations and rarely misses the exposure so badly the image can't be saved.

Many people seem to miss the fact that you can use ETTL even when the camera is set in M mode, but more importantly depending on the ambient light and the ambience understanding how you can get the camera to include, or exclude, that ambient light is important, people pay fortunes for venues and lighting/branding/ambience and having the camera automatically exclude it all in favor of a single small on camera bulb is rarely optimal. Back in the day wedding and event photographers would call the technique 'dragging the shutter', nowadays that ability completely automatically is hidden amongst obscure settings in the menus like Slow Sync!
 
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SumanV

EOS M6 Mark II
Sep 25, 2016
51
18
Hi Suman,

By ‘normal’ behaviour I meant always using a shutter speed of 1/200 as VegasCameraGuy said he was getting.

There are two main aspects to ETTL II that the camera controls In Av and P modes, it uses the flash power to control the subject illumination in combination with the set aperture, and it controls the ambient exposure separately by changing the shutter speed in combination with the aperture. These are two distinct exposures controlled completely independently at the same time that share a common aperture, which is why ETTL is at it’s most powerful when used in Av mode.

But this can lead to issues because in very dark conditions where the ambient light is minimal the shutter speeds can be very long, up to 30 seconds, the old fashioned way we dealt with this was to use ETTL for the flash but use the camera in M mode, thereby we set the background/ambient exposure and ETTL only dealt with the subject exposure.

The modern solution is to give the camera menu options for shutter speed regardless of the background brightness, the R5 has three options in the Menu under Slow Sync, 1/250-30sec Auto, 1/250-1/60 Auto, and 1/250. Traditionally ETTL II uses 1/250 - 30 sec Auto (or max sync speed to 30 sec), in that it will use any shutter speed it can to get a complimentary background exposure. But as I said this can cause issues in dark settings so rather than us learn how it is actually working Canon gave us a Menu option work around. The 1/250-1/60 Auto is the most useful setting as it caps the slow shutter speed to 1/60 sec thereby preventing the worst of the long exposures in dark situations. The 1/250 option is the newest and sets the background exposure in Av mode to the set aperture and the fastest shutter sync speed, on the R5 that is 1/250 electronic and 1/200 mechanical. Effectively when 1/250 is set in the menu in Av mode the camera is behaving exactly the same as it would be in M mode set to 1/250 electronic or 1/200 mechanical, the ETTL is being limited simply to the subject exposure.

This means half the computing power of ETTL II is being overridden, so is not ‘traditional’ behavior in Av mode. So if you are always getting 1/200 (max mechanical sync speed) as an exposure in Av mode with an R5 and a flash mounted in ETTL then the camera is not working out a background exposure and is behaving exactly the same as it would if you had it in M mode and set the shutter speed to 1/200. Ergo you must have the camera set to override ‘normal’ ETTL II behavior in the Slow Sync options.

Hope this explains it in an understandable way.
Thank you, @privatebydesign. I now understand this perfectly.

I wanted to ask you whether AE lock would help in achieving good exposure without having to resort to overriding the normal ETTL II behavior?

Thanks and regards
Suman
 
Last edited:

VegasCameraGuy

EOS R5
CR Pro
Jul 9, 2020
158
107
Las Vegas, NV
www.flickr.com
For sure there is no right or wrong way to work just different ways of achieving the look you want, and ETTL II in general is a great tool. The suggestion was really more about what is happening to the ambient exposure than the flash/subject part, for which I agree ETTL takes a huge amount of stress out of dynamic situations and rarely misses the exposure so badly the image can't be saved.

Many people seem to miss the fact that you can use ETTL even when the camera is set in M mode, but more importantly depending on the ambient light and the ambience understanding how you can get the camera to include, or exclude, that ambient light is important, people pay fortunes for venues and lighting/branding/ambience and having the camera automatically exclude it all in favor of a single small on camera bulb is rarely optimal. Back in the day wedding and event photographers would call the technique 'dragging the shutter', nowadays that ability completely automatically is hidden amongst obscure settings in the menus like Slow Sync!
Thanks as always for your sage advice. Now if I could just get Godox to build a potato masher style flash with the capacitors in the battery pack, I'd be in heaven! I love the AD360ii but it's heavy on an L bracket. There are times when I'm tempted to dig my Metz 202's out of storage and use those.
 
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privatebydesign

EOS-1D X Mark III
CR Pro
Jan 29, 2011
9,346
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Thank you, @privatebydesign. I now understand this perfectly.

I wanted to ask you whether AE lock would help in achieving good exposure without having to resort to overriding the normal ETTL II behavior?

Thanks and regards
Suman
No I don't think AE lock is going to help much because that is going to lock in your slow shutter speed ambient exposure. But don't forget in this 'dual exposure' ETTL II situation exposure compensation, EC, will only affect the ambient exposure so you can raise the auto shutter speed by three stops by dialing in -3 on your EC. Flash exposure compensation, FEC, will only affect the subject exposure (although that relies on their not being too much flash spill), so if your subject is very bright, or dark, or has reflective clothing on etc you can compensate for that alone with FEC.

For me this ability to control the flash and the ambient exposures independently was a key selling feature of the Canon flash system over the earlier Nikon flash system that worked a very different way. Though I do wish Canon flashes had a simple dumb light trigger like most Nikon flashes do and did.
 
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VegasCameraGuy

EOS R5
CR Pro
Jul 9, 2020
158
107
Las Vegas, NV
www.flickr.com
No I don't think AE lock is going to help much because that is going to lock in your slow shutter speed ambient exposure. But don't forget in this 'dual exposure' ETTL II situation exposure compensation, EC, will only affect the ambient exposure so you can raise the auto shutter speed by three stops by dialing in -3 on your EC. Flash exposure compensation, FEC, will only affect the subject exposure (although that relies on their not being too much flash spill), so if your subject is very bright, or dark, or has reflective clothing on etc you can compensate for that alone with FEC.

For me this ability to control the flash and the ambient exposures independently was a key selling feature of the Canon flash system over the earlier Nikon flash system that worked a very different way. Though I do wish Canon flashes had a simple dumb light trigger like most Nikon flashes do and did.
For sure there is no right or wrong way to work just different ways of achieving the look you want, and ETTL II in general is a great tool. The suggestion was really more about what is happening to the ambient exposure than the flash/subject part, for which I agree ETTL takes a huge amount of stress out of dynamic situations and rarely misses the exposure so badly the image can't be saved.

Many people seem to miss the fact that you can use ETTL even when the camera is set in M mode, but more importantly depending on the ambient light and the ambience understanding how you can get the camera to include, or exclude, that ambient light is important, people pay fortunes for venues and lighting/branding/ambience and having the camera automatically exclude it all in favor of a single small on camera bulb is rarely optimal. Back in the day wedding and event photographers would call the technique 'dragging the shutter', nowadays that ability completely automatically is hidden amongst obscure settings in the menus like Slow Sync!
I tried setting the shutter speed to go between 1/60 - 1/200th and the results were good in TTL mode except the flash tended to over expose by 1/2-1 stop. I was shooting pictures at dusk in a park and thinking about it, the camera was trying to light up the whole scene. Looking at the images they were shot at 1/60th f8 and somewhat overexposed but the background was dark as expected. It was easy to correct the exposure and limiting the slowest shutter speed to 1/60 prevented the camera from doing a long exposure to show the background.
 
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SumanV

EOS M6 Mark II
Sep 25, 2016
51
18
No I don't think AE lock is going to help much because that is going to lock in your slow shutter speed ambient exposure. But don't forget in this 'dual exposure' ETTL II situation exposure compensation, EC, will only affect the ambient exposure so you can raise the auto shutter speed by three stops by dialing in -3 on your EC. Flash exposure compensation, FEC, will only affect the subject exposure (although that relies on their not being too much flash spill), so if your subject is very bright, or dark, or has reflective clothing on etc you can compensate for that alone with FEC.

For me this ability to control the flash and the ambient exposures independently was a key selling feature of the Canon flash system over the earlier Nikon flash system that worked a very different way. Though I do wish Canon flashes had a simple dumb light trigger like most Nikon flashes do and did.
Thank you @privatebydesign

Regards
Suman
 
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